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APD Control Room for North Yorkshire Police

By GeoConnexion - 13th June 2013 - 12:47

In the past 12 months police forces around the UK have experienced budget cuts which are forcing them to look at new and innovative ways to use technology, leading to cost savings without jeopardising front line services.

North Yorkshire Police has been no exception. The Force was required to reduce yearly expenditure in the Force Control Room by £2.8 million; equal to a budget cut of around 20 percent.

In trying to achieve these savings, North Yorkshire Police decided to amalgamate all its Force Control Room Functions into one site at York. There were several challenges associated with this. Not only did any proposed solution need to help the Force enhance its services with fewer resources; the end result also needed to demonstrate the best operational and cost efficiencies possible.

North Yorkshire is the largest county in England and Wales. It was imperative that the transition should be as seamless as possible to preserve (and, where possible, enhance) the Force's reputation for high service standards among its extensive, geographically dispersed community. In addition to overhauling its communications infrastructure, the Force looked at other areas where improvements and savings could be made.

As part of this process, North Yorkshire Police discovered they could deploy a relatively new piece of technology from APD Communications that could reduce the number of CCI (Communications Control Interface) Ports linking the control room to the national Airwave network. The technology effectively pools port resources, creating an opportunity for 'free-seating' in the control room.

Free-seating allows operators to take calls and dispatch emergency resources from any workstation via any CCI port and thus use any combination of TETRA talkgroups. Sharing ports in this way allows staff to be deployed on demand, as circumstances require. The effect is to reduce the overall number of ports used, which both promotes operational efficiencies and can also significantly reduce overall costs.

Having worked with APD for twelve years, North Yorkshire already had the basic communications infrastructure needed for CCI port pooling in place. However, APD's unique software-only VoIP solution was still relatively new to the market so before proceeding, the Force assessed the relative merits of recent CCI port pooling projects at other forces. Once North Yorkshire Police decided to move forward, the entire implementation process, from testing to going live, was accomplished within just two weeks.

CCI port pooling is made possible through APD's CORTEX software Integrated Communications Control System (ICCS). The software-based solution is relatively low cost and offers customers an easy upgrade path. APD's software VoIP technology means that CCI Ports can be located anywhere – they simply signal their availability over the network. CORTEX supports CCI port 'Categories' or 'Modes', allowing CCI ports to be selected intelligently. Audio is automatically routed to the relevant location.

Almost uniquely for an ICCS, CORTEX's second-generation CCI pooling solution does not require the CCI ports to connect via a central switch, so there is no single point of failure.

By allowing North Yorkshire Police to 'pool' ports and allocate them on demand, APD has enabled the Force to dispense with 20 Airwave CCI Ports, amounting to an annual saving of £110,000. The solution provides greater flexibility, allowing the Force to raise or reduce capacity on demand.

The port pooling supports the retention of a fallback facility at Newby Wiske which retains CCI connections to Airwave thereby offering North Yorkshire Police continuity should the need arise. These can also be utilised at the Force Control Room, York for additional capacity.

With the implementation of CCI Port Pooling, North Yorkshire Police is increasing efficiency and reducing costs year on year.

"The Force Control Room is the hub for all critical policing activities and the move to a single, centralised Basic Command Unit operation makes this facility more vital than ever. High-availability was therefore one of our key requirements," said Tim Madgwick, Temporary Chief Constable at North Yorkshire Police.

"With its resilience, flexibility and cost-efficiency, the CCI port pooling solution from APD has certainly helped us to achieve our goal of 'doing more with less'. The savings made as a result of this project are helping us to secure a sustainable and successful future for North Yorkshire Police at a time when funding has decreased significantly."

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